Sunday, March 11, 2012

After School Read-Aloud & Craft: Transportation Theme, 3/8/12

This was the first After School Story Time of the Spring schedule, and the first one I actually heavily advertised on the list-serv and website. Unfortunately, because I did advertise it, the program attracted babies and toddlers, and older kids therefore wouldn't come in the room. No matter what we tell people, it seems like they are determined to attend every program we offer, no matter the level of appropriateness for their kids. The only way I've been able to combat this so far is to require registration for programs where age is truly an important factor, and even then, some of them will refuse to follow the age limits. I'm considering how to handle this over the summer, when I want to at least try to offer a school-age program that truly appeals to school age kids. Hopefully, I will make my decisions about that soon. In the meantime, this is the program I presented, with some modifications to suit the audience.

The Craft: Paper Steering Wheels & Pretend Drivers Licenses 

The idea for the steering wheels came from the Sprout website.

I. Supplies
 II. Prep 
 Because I didn't know what age group to expect, I cut the middles out of all the paper plates and fastened construction paper strips to them ahead of time. (I cut two inch strips along the short side of each piece of construction paper. Then I cut some of them in half to make the shorter pieces.) The idea was for the kids to then decorate their steering wheels and draw their own picture on the fake license.

III. Process
Despite the fact that I told the adults that after school story time is different, and we color while we read, not one of them would allow the kids to color before or during the stories. In fact, only one child actually colored his at all. The others took steering wheels with them, but only because I handed them out for one of the stories. (See below.)

The Read-Alouds: Books About Transportation

While these were not necessarily the books I wanted to read for this program, they were very well-received by the kids. So while this was not a successful after school program, it was a pretty successful story time for the age group. 

Book 1: Duck on a Bike by David Shannon (2002)
I'd never read this before, but it's really funny - and similar to Doreen Cronin's Click, Clack Moo. I love the close-ups of each of the farm animals' faces, and  their reactions to the silly duck riding his bike. Two of the little boys knew the names of all the animals in Spanish, but not English, so they told me the Spanish names - which thankfully I recognized from six years of Spanish classes - and then we made the animal sounds together. I plan to use this book again with some of my preschool and Pre-K classes later this month. 

Book 2: Mitchell's License by Hallie Durand, illustrated by Tony Fucile (2011)
The kids were not old enough to get the humor of this book on their own, but with some extra explanation from me, and some laughter from their caregivers, they got really into it. They loved the silliness of honking the horn, so we all hammed it up and honked our own noses, and they all loved the idea of cookies as gasoline, even if I don't think they quite understood it. I love this book for a slightly older audience, but it worked okay for this group, too. 

Book 3:  My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis, illustrated by Daniel Kirk (2002)
I'm not crazy about this book, but it had a lot of good rhyme and onomatopoeia which works well with very little ones I also had to point out the subtle joke in the illustrations - the gophers or whatever they are stealing the bones from out of the stuck truck - but the kids loved it anyway. 

Song: The Wheels on the Bus 
I promised myself there would be no singing at these after school programs, because that only encourages the caregivers to bring younger kids. But these kids were so little, and it wasn't their fault their nannies don't pay attention to age limits, so I did one song. I could have gone without it, maybe, but the kids really do love that song.

Book 4: In the Driver's Seat by Max Haynes (1997)
For this book, I handed out the steering wheels so the kids could pretend to drive a car along with the story. The concept was a good one, but I don't think it worked well with this book, since there was actually very little steering. If I do this activity again, I'd probably make up my own set of directions for  them to "drive" to, instead of trying to adhere to a book. I also had one caregiver refuse to let the kids take a steering wheel, which made no sense to me at all.

The Book Display: More Transportation Titles 

Caldecott Challenge Post #14

Shadow by Blaise Cendrars, translated and illustrated by Marcia Brown. Published 1982. Caldecott Medal 1983. Aladdin. ISBN: 9780689718755

This eerie book is not a bedtime story. Its spooky pages depict a shadow, known in African culture as a being that slips between the past and the present. At least one page outright terrified me, and the rest of them left me feeling unsettled. The book is unusual, for sure, and I think I'd have a hard time finding a child to whom I could recommend it.

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold. Published 1991. Caldecott Honor 1992. Dragonfly Books. ISBN: 9780517885444

Strangely, I remembered this as a wonderful book, but finished this reading feeling pretty neutral about it. The first line of the story - "I will always remember when the stars fell down around me and lifted me up above the George Washington Bridge." - is beautifully poetic and engaging, but after that initial moment of appreciation for the author's talents, I started losing interest. I did like the way the illustrations incorporated different angles and vantage points, but this fantasy element of flying and the history lesson about bridges didn't mesh well for me, and the ending sounded nice, but didn't feel satisfying to me. I do think this book would pair well with Blackout, however.

The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey. Published 1996. Caldecott Honor 1997. Scholastic. ISBN: 9780531071397

Until I read this book, I thought of only two things when I thought of Dav Pilkey - Dumb Bunnies and Captain Underpants. I had no idea there was this more serious side to his work, or that his illustrations could be so soft and filled with such lovely detail and color. The story is about the morning routine of a paperboy, who gets up when everyone is asleep and heads out on his own to deliver newspapers. Every page evokes the silence and mystery of the early morning, and for twenty-first century kids who are more likely to read their news on a screen than on the printed page, the entire book provides insight into an experience most kids probably don't know about. For me, this book was a reminder of the stories my own father has told me about his experiences as a paperboy. This is one of several books I've read for this challenge so far that would be great to promote during the Dream Big, Read summer reading program this year.

Many Moons by James Thurber. illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. Published 1943. Caldecott Medal 1944. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN: 9780152518738

In high school, I read two short stories by James Thurber - The Secret Life of walter Mitty and The Catbird Seat. I also used to own a paperback copy of his children's story, The Wonderful O. I didn't know about Many Moons until more recently, but I'm glad to have made the discovery. The story is about a princess who begs her father to get her the moon. He consults all the various royal assistants who have helped him in the past, trying to find a way to accomplish this task. When they finally devise a way to fool the princess into believing she has received the moon, the king then realizes he must also come up with an explanation for why the moon is still in the sky if his daughter has it in her possession. The most wonderful thing about this book is the credit it gives to children and their imaginations. It is the princess who ultimately defines what the moon means to her, and who provides the explanation for the moon being with her and in the sky simultaneously. I also love the clever writing, particularly when each of the king's advisers lists the things with which they have helped the king in the past. I also think the illustrations are lovely, and I wish they hadn't bothered with a reissue.

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.
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